Constructing cosmoscapes: Cosmological currents in conversation and contestation in contemporary Bolivia

Rosalyn Bold


This article explores how cosmological currents contest and converse with one another to compose a shifting “cosmoscape” in Kaata, a community in highland Bolivia. Contrasting worlding practices encompass reciprocal relations between humans, ancestral mummies, and animate earth beings like mountains, and an emerging conviction that such nonhumans merely comprise natural resources for human exploitation. Challenging an easy contrast between modernity and animism as reified ontologies, I explore the community as a cosmoscape composed of conversations between these contrasting cosmological trends, surfacing circumstantially; while some villagers engage with wondrous currents of self-enrichment, many believe they will have catastrophic consequences. Mountain beings are the result of cosmopolitical colonial negotiations with the state rather than timeless constructs, and the community continues to equivocate their meaning through social movements at the state level, contesting the instrumentalized use of earth beings by the so-called indigenous state, which enables rather than contests extractivism.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/708033